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Posts Tagged stone bistro

Escondido’s Offbeat Brewing shutting down

Mar 17

Back when I worked Stone Brewing’s Escondido headquarters, many were the nights when me and my marketing colleagues would walk over to the much smaller brewery down the street and knock off with a pint or two. That operation, Offbeat Brewing Company, was the family-run project of an ex-Stone cellar man following his own muse, crafting mostly sessionable beers, many of which had English roots. So it’s sad to hear that today will be Offbeat’s swan song.

Yesterday, owner and brewmaster Tom Garcia announced he has made the difficult decision to close the doors to his brewery, but not before one last St. Patrick’s Day hurrah. So if you’re looking for a farewell-taste of Bear Arms Brown Ale or Girafficopter Pale Ale, this is it. Garcia says with his lease up, it made sense to close the book on Offbeat. That said, the 15-year industry veteran says he’s not against the idea of trying his hand at the brewing business again.

Offbeat opened in 2012 with a bar built from wood from old pallets and discarded furniture, plus a makeshift brewery Garcia described as “the Millennium Falcon of brewhouses.” From the get-go, the space was punched-up from an artistic aspect. The upper portion of the west wall featured a colorful mural with outlandish characters, while the bottom half and many of the other walls regularly featured art from an array of local artists. That art was for sale with 100% of proceeds going to the artist, so that outlet will surely be missed by the creative sect. And painted portraits of outlandish characters like Deer Grandpa and the aforementioned Bear Arms looked good behind the bar.

In the end, what made Offbeat’s location so great for Team Stone, likely hurt the business in the long run. Surviving in an obscure business park on a side-road a half-mile from a major destination like Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Escondido must have been challenging. Choosing between the two equates to a no-brainer of sorts for beer-tourists who’ve come any nominal distance to visit Escondido. But plenty of locals enjoyed Offbeat during its time, mostly for its polar-opposite, laidback vibe and beers.

Offbeat joins other San Diego County breweries that have closed their doors since last summer, including On-The-Tracks Brewery, Lightning Brewery, Valley Center Brewery and Pacific Brewing.

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March Events Sampler Flight

Mar 1

When it comes to beer and revelry, there’s far more to March than St. Patrick’s Day. A varied assortment of imbibing opportunities awaits over this 31-day span, so much that this sampling of standout events only scrapes the surface. For the full line-up of goings-on, check out our events page.

March 2 | Reopening: It took nearly two years for the family behind Indian Joe Brewing to get back into action after closing their original Vista brewery, but they’re back with a much larger facility, a new head brewer, beers both new and old, and a two-story tasting-room they’re just dying to show off! | Indian Joe Brewing, 2123 Industrial Court, Vista, 3 p.m.

March 4 | Renaissance: Each year, Churchill’s Pub & Grille culls its extensive library of rare, specialty beers, and calls in favors from the brewing community to assemble a primo ale-and-lager list to offer in tandem with outrageously decadent food specials in celebration of this sudsy North County staple’s anniversary. | Churchill’s Pub & Grille, 887 West San Marcos Boulevard, San Marcos, 11 a.m.

March 5 | Stone IPA Madness—Festival of Hops: The county’s largest and, perhaps, hoppiest brewery, Stone Brewing, is holding a hop-driven extravaganza where attendees can sample an assortment of India pale ales, including prototypes and small-batch creations never before tasted by the public. | Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, 1999 Citracado Parkway, Escondido, 11 a.m.

March 11 | Best Coast Beer Fest: Will Ferrell’s annual suds festival is returning and making good on its mission to raise funds for Cancer for College—a non-profit helping cancer survivors overcome barriers to higher-education—via enjoyment of beer, food and live music in the San Diego sunshine. | Embarcadero Marina Park South, 200 Marina Park Way, Downtown, 2 p.m.

March 18 | SD Homebrew Fest: San Diego’s pro-brewers point to the county’s strong homebrewing culture when asked about the region’s beery success, and this festival celebrates that spirit care of more than 35 unique homebrew creations, all of which will vie for best-of-show honors decided by event attendees. | The North Park Observatory Parking Lot, 2891 University Avenue, North Park, 12 p.m.

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Monkey Paw brings on new head brewer

Nov 22

logo_mpspbcYesterday, the owner of Monkey Paw Pub & BreweryScot Blair, announced that he has selected the replacement for head brewer Cosimo Sorrentino, who will be leaving his post come the end of the year. That individual is Nick Norton, who has spent the past two years working in the brewhouse at Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station.

Norton worked on the restaurant-side at Stone Brewing‘s Point Loma brewpub before being brought into the brewery by Liberty Station brewing manager Kris Ketcham. While there, he aided in the production of a wide-ranging and often adventurous portfolio of beers, one of which, Witty Moron, medaled at the Great American Beer Festival, not once, but twice.


New Monkey Paw brewer, Nick Norton (photo courtesy Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens – Liberty Station)

This hire marks a departure from form for Blair, who has had two brewers at his East Village brewpub over the past five years, both of which were plucked from San Diego’s home-brewing ranks. Though young, Norton has more professional experience coming into this position than Sorrentino or his predecessor, Derek Freese (who currently brews at Modern Times Beer Company).

But heading brewing operations at Monkey Paw was only half of Sorrentino’s job. He was also in charge of beer-making at sister-business South Park Brewing Company. Blair constructed that brewpub next-door to his flagship operation, Hamilton’s Tavern, in 2015, and Sorrentino evolved the brewing program to the point where every beer on-tap was produced in-house.

Blair has decided to take control of the brewery-side of South Park Brewing. But he won’t be alone. In taking the reins, he is promoting cellarman Ryan Traylor to the position of assistant brewer. When asked about the beers that will be produced under this new order, Blair says he’s committed to moving things forward while honoring the past.

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Q&A: “Dr.” Bill Sysak

Nov 8

drbillsysak_stone_totalwine_dfCEO, Wild Barrel Brewing Company

In late-October, while the craft beer community was still processing the news of Stone Brewing’s sizeable layoffs, wondering and worrying about the long-term, highly visible individuals who had been cut from Team Stone, one of the most well-known delivered some shocking news of a positive ilk. That ex-Stoner is “Dr.” Bill Sysak, who announced he is in the process of opening his own brewery, Wild Barrel Brewing Company. A bon vivant and hospitality professional known throughout the world (this is not hyperbole) for his extensive beer and food knowledge, this is Sysak’s first fermentable foray where he is in an ownership position. Scheduled to open mid-Spring of next year, Wild Barrel will be sited in San Marcos and eventually feature multiple tasting rooms. Read on for more on the finer details and Sysak’s vision for the business and a rather exciting life post-Stone.

What will your role and responsibilities be at Wild Barrel?
My title will be CEO, and my role will be driving the concept of the brewery, from initial design and layout to the styles of beer we make, marketing, direction and growth. I have a very talented team with me, and my 39 years around craft-beer has afforded me access to a ridiculous number of friends and consultants, all of whom are proven leaders in the industry. I have the vision, I have the plan, but I also know that I don’t have all the answers.

What led you to opening a brewery and why did you select San Marcos as your home-base?
I’ve been approached by investors many times over the last 20 years about opening a craft beer bar or brewpub, but I didn’t start taking it seriously until I left the medical field in 2008. The opportunity to work for Stone in 2009 was too great to pass up, so I put it on hold until last year. As far as San Marcos, even though there are a number of breweries there already, including two that I love—Port Brewing / The Lost Abbey and Rip Current Brewing—I think there is still plenty of room for craft breweries that produce distinctive, unique beers. It also doesn’t hurt that the City of San Marcos is pro-craft breweries.

How long have you been working on this project and how has that process been?
I started the process in early 2015. I had a couple of false starts, but by the beginning of 2016 my partners and I, with the help of consultants, started to finalize the business plan and operating agreement. We have a large portion of our funding accomplished; enough that we had reached the benchmark to move forward with announcing the project last month. We are currently negotiating a lease, which will be followed by our TTB and numerous other filings. We are getting quotes on brewhouses and hope to put that order in over the next two weeks. Other areas such as POS, beer menus, glassware, growler filling system, draft system, beer styles, labels, website are all either selected or in development.

Who will handle the brewing and what are some of the beers they will produce?
Bill Sobieski, an award-winning home-brewer and Certified Beer Judge, who is well known in the Southern California craft beer community. I’ve known Bill for over 25 years, and he will be our director of brewery operations. I think with the constantly increasing number of beers the craft beer consumer has available to them, having a focused beer portfolio is critical. In hyper-competitive markets like San Diego, Portland and Denver, the days of a new brewery making whatever beer styles the brewer wants to that particular week is over. To be successful today you still need to make beers that cater to every palate, but you can’t just randomly select styles. We will have one gateway beer to start, not three. It will be a Belgian wit, light and refreshing to capture the converted BMC (Bud, Miller, Coors) drinkers, yet complex enough to be the first beer of the night for a beer aficionado, 5-6% (alcohol-by-volume) with classic ingredients, but with more pronounced citrus notes than most wits. You can expect us to have two or three San Diego-style IPAs on at any given time. I love hops and, apparently, most of the craft beer community does also. Even though it will take us some time to acquire hop contracts we aren’t going to let that stop us from making IPAs with the hops that we want to use. One of the biggest mistakes I see new breweries make is the kitchen-sink IPA. They throw Mosaic, Citra, Nelson, Simcoe and three other hard-to-get hops all in one beer. It smells and tastes great, but they can’t continue to produce it. Our core IPA will be in the 7-8% ABV range with classic West Coast hops like Cascade, Centennial and CTZ making up the majority of the hop bill until we get to the late addition, then you will see a rotating finishing hop that will be highlighted. You can also expect to see a couple of bigger IPAs throughout the year, mainly doubles. All I can tell you about the coffee stout right now is that I am talking to four local roasters and our goal is to have the beer change seasonally. The only roaster I can confirm at this time is Mostra Coffee. Bill is also recreating a beer called Mission Impechable that he first created 20 years ago.

How do you believe your beer expertise will impact this business and make it better?
One of my roles at Stone was running the beverage program for their hospitality division. I have also been a consultant to various bars, restaurants and breweries over the last 20 years. Those experiences will be invaluable in starting a brewery and subsequent tasting rooms. Having personal relationships with hundreds of potential accounts around the country will be helpful and having purchased beers through bottle releases since their inception gives me insight into that process also. I’ve already had discussions with some of the best breweries in the country about doing collaborations, so expect to see a number of them.

Who are some individuals who have been instrumental to the conceptualization of Wild Barrel?
My closest friend over the last five years is Chris White. Not White Labs Chris White, although he is a friend also. Chris is mine and Bill’s partner, and will serve as president of Wild Barrel. He is an entrepreneur who already runs two successful businesses; Golden State Cigars and Golden State Pools. Chris has been involved from the beginning and I wouldn’t have been able to do this without him.

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November Events Sampler Flight: Best of Beer Week

Nov 1

sdbw_logoIf ever there were a month made for craft-beer revelry, November is it. San Diego Beer Week takes place from November 4-13 and includes literally hundreds of events throughout the county. They range from pint-nights to full-on festivals. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure of sorts, allowing beer-fans to tailor these ten days to their personal tastes. I urge everyone to have it your way, but in an effort to guide those looking for a good time as I see it, I’ve listed my dream Beer Week scenario below. Enjoy the hoppiest time of the year, but don’t forget there are plenty of other awesome events taking place before and after Beer Week. For the most comprehensive list of local events around, consult the constantly updated West Coaster events calendar.

Friday, November 4

  • Rare Beer Breakfast, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Escondido
  • 4-Year Anniversary & Barrel-Aged Bottle Release, Amplified Ale Works, Pacific Beach
  • VIP Brewer’s Takeover, Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, Downtown

Saturday, November 5

  • Beer for Breakfast with Abnormal Beer Co., Small Bar, University Heights
  • San Diego Brewers Guild Festival, Port Pavilion at Broadway Pier, Downtown
  • Fall Brewing 2nd Anniversary with The Creepy Creeps, Casbah San Diego, Little Italy

Sunday, November 6

  • Modern Times Vegan Brunch, Churchill’s Pub & Grille, San Marcos
  • Barrel-Aged Vanilla Storm Bottle Release, Rip Current Brewing Company, North Park
  • The Bruery Beer Dinner, George’s at the Cove, La Jolla

Monday, November 7

  • Fishing with the Brewers; Fathom Bistro, Bail & Tackle; Shelter Island
  • Pink Boots Society Special Release, Rock Bottom, La Jolla
  • Brew, Views & Chews, Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, Harbor Island

Tuesday, November 8

  • Table Beer Tap Takeover, Benchmark Brewing Company, Grantville
  • Beer to the Rescue Bad Hombre Release, White Labs, Miramar
  • Chicks for Beer with Laura Ulrich, The High Dive, Bay Park

Wednesday, November 9

  • Sour Beer Fest, Intergalactic Brewing Company, Miramar
  • Speedway Grand Prix, AleSmith Brewing Company, Miramar
  • Tyson’s Big Ass Barrel Night, O’Brien’s Pub, Kearny Mesa

Thursday, November 10

  • San Diego County Beer Week Frisbee Golf Tourney, Morley Field & Hamilton’s Tavern, South Park
  • The New Kids Brewing & Distilling Festival, Marina Village, Mission Bay
  • Paradox Beer Dinner, The Bellows, San Marcos

Friday, November 11

  • We Got the Funk, Pizza Port, Ocean Beach
  • Battle of the Guilds, Toronado, North Park
  • Roll Out the Barrels, North Park Beer Co., North Park

Saturday, November 12

  • Stone AHA Rally, Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens, Liberty Station
  • Carnitas’ Snack Shack Beer Brunch Buffet, Thorn St. Brewery, North Park
  • 2nd Anniversary Celebration, O’Sullivan Bros. Brewing Company, Scripps Ranch

Sunday, November 13

  • Danksauce & Dog Show, The Quartyard, East Village
  • Garage Sale with Garage Project, Sessions Public, Ocean Beach
  • Beer Garden, The Lodge at Torrey Pines, La Jolla

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